What drives him?

  • ‘War is partly madness, mostly insanity, and the rest is schizophrenia’
  • Try and justify your presence, what point is of it when these people have already been killed
  • Try not to indulge in picture taking
  • Something I was meant to do, but how far was I allowed to take it
  • Didn’t think it was right to be there
  • People doing these terrible things, perhaps thought I was ok-ing it.
  • Saw an execution 1965
  • Looking back, do I have the right to take pictures of that mans murder?
  • Public executions are just another form of murder
  • Took a set of pictures of the boys I grew up – involved in the killing of a policeman
  • Came from a violent background
  • Having the door open to escape from his background was a fantastic opportunity. He got out of the violent, bigoted place.
  • Took photos of cold war, where Berlin wall was being put up
  • After that, won award for the photographs and got contract with the observer.
  • War in Cyprus
  • Helped save an old woman, made him feel like someone actually helping that just a voyeur
  • Of course he would help people, sometimes just to clear his own conscience
  • When people are in deep grief or emotion, they look up, almost like they can see God offering them some help.
  • Neither an artist nor a poet, I’m a photographer.
  • Much better to be on the side of humanity
  • Crisis in Congo
  • McCullin arrived amongst panic for German magazine ‘Quick’
  • Moral sense of purpose and duty
  • Want to take photos but want to stop it
  • ‘Even My Darkroom Is a Haunted Place’
  • ‘I don’t just take photographs, I think’
  • Got shot once

This video is heart wrenching, especially about the Congo. He saw people, young boys, murdered, skinned alive and brutalized. Hearing him describe it and talk about the horror of wanting to take the photos, but wanting to stop it and not being able to, sheds light on a difficult perspective of how much ability the photographer has to interfere, and the moral issues that come along with it.


  • Ethics of the photographer.
  • Compare Don McCullin to Cartier-Bresson
  • Both capture the decisive moment
  • Goya Artist – mentions him in video around Cyprus time
  • Wanted reach the people reading the newspaper – wanted to really shock them

Stuff of interest

Bill Viola

Steve Edwards: photography a very short introduction – book